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First Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Las Vegas, Nevada - These may be bad times for the auto industry, but have a look at how Hyundai is doing and you’d never know it.

During a month when the industry was down 15.1 per cent from 2008, Hyundai’s March sales were up 25.5 per cent for the month and 25.3 per cent for the first quarter of 2009. During the same period Hyundai increased its share of the Canadian light vehicle market from 4.5 to 7.1 per cent. Include Kia - Hyundai’s sister company who is having a pretty good year itself - and the Koreans now have nearly 10 per cent of the Canadian market.

Dennis DesRosiers, whose automotive consultancy generates this data each month, is fond of saying that when car companies are in trouble - or when they are successful - “it can be sourced back to three words… product, product and product. Everything else comes into second place.”

Judging from the data, Hyundai has the products that Canadians (who still want to buy a new car) want to buy - compact cars (Accent, Elantra and Tiburon), family vehicles (Sonata and Entourage) and SUVs (Tucson, Santa Fe and Veracruz). Hyundai promotes the quality and value of the vehicles it sells. Obviously Canadians agree.

Last year, Hyundai introduced a new vehicle that takes the company into a segment associated more with high end automobiles than with mass market vehicles - the rear-wheel drive Genesis Sedan. While it is still too early to see how well the Genesis Sedan will do, the new car hit a home run with the media winning 2009 North American Car of the Year, AJAC’s Best New Luxury Car under $50,000 and 2009 Canadian Car of the Year, Consumer Reports “Top-Rated Upscale Sedan” while the Genesis’ 4.6-litre V8 landed on Ward’s 2009 10 Best Engines list. The Genesis Sedan competes against some well known luxury and near-luxury brands, like the Lexus ES 350, Acura TL, Lincoln MKS, Nissan Maxima, Saab 9-5 and several others.

Now Hyundai has introduced another new vehicle based on the Genesis rear-wheel drive platform - the Genesis Coupe. Although it shares a name with the Genesis Sedan, the two cars are not at all alike. Rather than siblings, they are more like distant cousins, sharing the same DNA, but not much else. While the Sedan is a full-size entry level luxury car, the Coupe is performance 2+2.

I have to admit I find the naming a bit confusing and suspect that buyers might too. Hyundai marketing has their work cut out to differentiate these two.

The Genesis Coupe again takes Hyundai into uncharted territory where it will compete against some well-known sport coupes. Hyundai would like to position the Genesis Coupe in the company of the Infiniti G37, Mazda RX-8 and even the BMW 3-series coupes, but realistically, it is more likely to be compared to the Nissan Altima coupe, Ford Mustang, Honda Accord coupe, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Honda Civic Si and Chevrolet Cobalt SS.

But if you think that Hyundai is dreaming in technicolour targeting costly coupes like the G37, RX-8 and 3-Series, get behind the wheel and you will be presently surprised. The Genesis Coupe could turn out to be Infiniti’s (and Mazda’s and BMW’s) worst nightmare.

Our introductory test drive on roads around Las Vegas and on the track at the private Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, showed that the Genesis Coupe is a stylish, powerful, well-balanced and fun-to-drive sport coupe.

The rear-wheel drive set up has serious advantages for those who like to toss their car around on a curvy road or on the track. It provides an almost ideal 55/45 front to rear weight distribution, excellent traction under acceleration, better handling and braking and room under a low hood for a variety of power plants.

The base engine in the Coupe is a 2.0-litre turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder. It generates 210 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 223 lb. ft of torque at 2000 rpm. It uses a Mitsubishi-sourced turbocharger with a maximum of 15.0 psi boost pressure, a mild application of turbocharging that results in a smooth swell of power through the powerband. Acceleration to 100 km/h is estimated to be 8.3 seconds.

Step up to the optional 3.8-litre V6 with 306 hp on tap and 266 lb. ft. of torque and the Coupe’s straight line ability is significantly improved - with a zero to 100 km/h time estimated to be a shade under six seconds.

The V6 receives some tweaking for this application under the hood of a sport coupe. Compared to the same engine in the Genesis Sedan, the Genesis Coupe V6 has a larger cylinder bore, a lighter weight crankshaft with a larger main journal, stronger connecting rods, a redesigned intake manifold, larger mass air flow sensor and higher injector flow rate, all designed to push more air and fuel through the engine and create more power.

While one’s initial reaction might be, “I’ve got to have that bigger engine,” take both cars for a test drive before making a decision. We found that the lighter weight of the four-cylinder engine gave the coupe better handling characteristics on the track than the V6-equipped cars. The lower power cars were more nimble and better balanced, with less tendency to plough (not that either displayed much understeer at all).

Better drivers amongst our group of journalists consistently turned better times on the slalom course with the I-4 than with the V6. On the road course, more horsepower gave the advantage to the V6 on the straight sections, but the I-4 felt more balanced and tractable in the corners. And despite the two plus second difference in zero to 100 km/h times between the two, the turbocharged engine is no slouch. In daily life, 8.2 seconds is plenty quick.

If handling is a priority, then whether you choose a V6 or an I-4, the optional GT suspension is an absolute must.

The Genesis Coupe has a MacPherson strut front suspension and a 5-link independent rear suspension that provides excellent handling for everyday driving. But the GT suspension takes the Coupe up a notch for serious handling with a front strut tower brace, larger front and rear stabilizer bars, stiffer spring rates and larger bushings, limited slip differential, larger and more powerful Brembo brakes and Bridgestone Potenza RE050A performance tires (P225/40VR19 front/P245/40VR19 rear) on attractive 10-spoke rims.

The standard brakes have 12.6 inch ventilated rotors up front and 12.4 inch rotors in the rear and use single piston floating calipers. The Brembo braking system has 13.4 inch ventilated rotors n the front and 13.0 inch ventilated rotors at the back and use four-piston monobloc fixed calipers.

The separate cost of these brakes if purchased aftermarket is greater than the cost of the entire GT upgrade, making moving up to a GT package a no-brainer for both daily drivers and enthusiasts.

Speaking of costs - I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for this - the 2010 Genesis Coupe starts at $24,495 equipped with the turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment at this level is not spartan, not at all. It includes some desirable features usually found only on more expensive cars or in expensive option packages such as front windshield wiper de-icer, automatic light control and fog lights, power up and down windows for both driver and passenger, steering wheel mounted cruise, Bluetooth and audio controls, paddle shifters with the automatic transmission and 18-inch alloy wheels and high performance all-season tires. A six-speaker AM/FM/XM/MP3 audio system is standard. Also standard are stability control and the full complement of front and side air bags.

Seats in the base model are cloth, but they are comfortable and supportive sport buckets that will not disappoint. Most of our morning was spent driving a base model and comfort was not an issue. The car, equipped with the 1-4, was quiet and smooth on the highway. The robust sound of the smaller engine was neither intrusive nor bothersome, but a pleasant muffled roar under hard acceleration.

Rear seat room in this 2+2 was more generous than I had expected. Although the slope of the roof over the rear seat limits head room for taller passengers, leg and foot room was even larger than some four door compact sedans I’ve tested recently.

On 1-4 models a premium package adds heated front seats, 10-speaker Infinity audio system with six-disc in-dash CD changer, power sunroof and leather seating, priced at $27,495.

V6 models start at $32,995 with the same level of equipment as the I-4 with premium package, plus automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror and mirror-mounted turn signal indicators. A smart key and push-button starting is also included. Interestingly, the U.S. models that we drove were all equipped with this feature as standard equipment, but unlike Canadian models, fog lights were an optional extra.

GT upgrades are primarily limited to the suspension and wheel upgrade. However, the four-cylinder model also received a unique black leather interior with red cloth inserts. GT Genesis Coupes are priced at $30,745 and $34,995.

A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is available across the model range for V6 models at an additional $1,800, while a five-speed auto can be ordered for the base and premium four-cylinder models for an additional $1,500.

The wing you see in the photos on GT models is part of the Trac package in the US, but in Canada it will be a dealer installed accessory. Personally, I’ve never liked gargantuan rear spoilers that rarely spoil anything other than the car’s design.

The Genesis Coupe arrived in Canada in late March and is on sale now across the country.

CanadianDriver First Drives First Drive: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
 

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Token Metro Guy
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I've been waiting for this review to come along. Be right back, off to read it.
 

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"Acceleration to 100 km/h is estimated to be 8.3 seconds."

Most mag estimated under 7 sec.
this editor can't drive well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
"Acceleration to 100 km/h is estimated to be 8.3 seconds."

Most mag estimated under 7 sec.
this editor can't drive well.
That 8.3 number comes from some Korean ad as far as I remember, not a test time by the driver. And 0-100km/h is not the same as 0-60mph, we'll have to wait to see some real numbers for that as well.


And I'm hoping canadiandriver.com does a long term test on the car, I always enjoy their full reviews.
 
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